PSEG pursues $50m upgrade project for Bethlehem Energy Center

PSEG Power New York LLC on Feb. 17 filed with the New York State Public Service Commission some additional information on its planned upgrade project at the Bethlehem Energy Center.

The filing was a response to questions posed by commission staff related to a Jan. 16 application. One question had to do with any plans by transmission owner Niagara Mohawk Power and the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) for re-conductoring of lines #1 and #2, or other upgrades or changes necessary to the identified facilities to allow the PSEG facility to operate at a higher output.

Said the response: “The [System Reliability Impact Study] SRIS prepared by the NYISO for the Uprate Project was approved by the Operating Committee at its meeting on February 13, 2015. The actual System Upgrades that may be required will be determined as part of the Class Year Study which includes the PSEG Uprate project; this is expected to be the 2015 Class Year which is currently projected to commence on March 1, 2015. There has been no correspondence between PSEG and Niagara Mohawk or the NYISO concerning plans for the specific System Upgrades identified in the SRIS. PSEG notes, however, that all of the System Upgrade facilities identified in the SRIS involve lines that are owned and maintained by Niagara Mohawk, and any required work on such System Upgrades will be undertaken by Niagara Mohawk, not PSEG.”

The filing later added: “PSEG does not intend to begin the upgrades prior to the Class Year Study or to accept further upgrades without first being apprised of the cost. As noted above in response to question 1(a), any required work on such System Upgrades will be undertaken by Niagara Mohawk, not PSEG, and PSEG has no plans to request that Niagara Mohawk perform such work prior to completion of the Class Year Study. PSEG expects to install the upgrades during scheduled shutdowns beginning in 2017 (although it would like to have all regulatory approvals completed as soon as possible, in the event that the Upgrades can be installed on one or more of the turbines in 2016 as part of any unscheduled shutdown).”

In answer to a question about power plant gas usage, PSEG wrote: “The amount of gas used on a per megawatt basis drops from 449 pounds per MW-hour pre improvement to 440 pounds per mW-hour post upgrade, due to the higher efficiency created by the Upgrades. The increase in gas usage rate is a result of the increase in total power output available from the Facility. The Facility’s infrastructure is sufficient to deliver the increased amount of gas to the Facility as needed.”

Another answer to a question about project costs was: “PSEG carries out regular maintenance every 2-3 years during which the hot gas path (HGP) components of its combined cycle turbines are cleaned and/or replaced. Through improved materials and thermodynamics, [General Electric] has been able to engineer HGP parts with higher efficiency and increased durability, resulting in higher power output and efficiency. The installation of these Advanced Gas Path (AGP) parts is straightforward and can occur during PSEG’s scheduled future maintenance outages. There is no increase in outage duration or labor costs, since the scope of work is similar to regularly-scheduled HGP maintenance. Hence, PSEG categorizes the work required for this project as normal maintenance.”

The petition from PSEG indicates that the upgrades for all three combustion turbines will total $50 million, with materials costs of $31 million. Said the petition: “The proposed modification is requested to allow BEC to upgrade certain components of its three General Electric GE 7FA.03 natural gas-fired turbines. All of the components to be upgraded are inside the turbines, and the work would simply replace existing parts with newer ones made of better materials and improved design. Software updates would also be installed that would improve output at higher operating loads, and ensure air emission limits would continue to be met at all operating loads. The component replacement and software update would result in an improvement in efficiency (heat rate) of approximately 1.2%, and a reduction in operation and maintenance costs due to the increased durability of the parts, all without affecting air emissions.

“The Upgrades are essentially the same as those that have recently been completed on four CTs at the PSEG Linden Generating Station located in Linden, New Jersey, and those planned to be completed on two CTs at PSEG’s Bergen Generating Station in Ridgefield, New Jersey. GE has sold over 100 of these upgrade packages, more than 60 of which are retrofits to existing units such as those at BEC. More than 35 of those are currently in operation. The proposed Upgrades will increase the electrical output of each turbine by approximately 7.2 percent, from a nominal 165 megawatts (MW) to 177 MW.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.